The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services thinks Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s pledge to maintain charity-care levels at Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles is a little thin.
The county and the state attorney general's office are reviewing the sale. Last December, Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Tenet signed a letter of intent to acquire 409-bed Queen of Angels for $86.4 million in cash.
In a Feb. 24 report to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, County Health Services Director Mark Finucane said Tenet's charity-care pledge should be based on cost, not charges, and should be adjustable for inflation.
The board will review the report and forward its position on the sale to the state attorney general, who is expected to make the final decision by mid-April.
Under the terms of the sale, Tenet has agreed to match charity-care spending at Queen of Angels after it buys the hospital. Last year, that figure was $10 million in charges. Finucane's report said that figure was $6 million in costs.
The report expressed concern that Tenet might meet its obligation by raising prices rather than providing equivalent care to the poor.
Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson said Finucane's recommendations are impractical.
"It would add an irrelevancy to the process because charity care is accounted for in many ways," he said.